With some wacky new products (think chairs gone wild) and a nose for what's the next big trend (think red on red), Elizabeth Moore is a designer to watch.
Elizabeth Moore's mantra is "Think outside the box." Maybe because she moved 17 times before she was 20, first as a bohemian art student in Europe, and then as a set and wardrobe designer for Prince and Stevie Nicks. Since 1984, Moore has worked as a production designer in the film industry for celebrity clients and as an artist — a sculptor, painter, photographer and designer — who has shown and sold her art internationally.
Now the designer has her hands in a number of creative endeavors through her firm, Froote — from funky wallpapers, furnishings, accessories and artwork to fresh interiors that are stylish and functional. She is definitely a design mover and shaker to watch. HGTV.com talked to Moore in her L.A. studio.
How did you get started in design?
I got a bachelor's degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and when I came back from studying in Europe I wasn't aware of the current pop scene. But a friend of mine was catering for a band in St. Paul, Minn., and I joined her, flipping burgers for the crew. I didn't know who Prince was, really; I was like, "Who's the guy with the ruffles?"
The production manager asked me if I could sew. They were traveling around the world for the Purple Rain tour and needed a wardrobe person. I was a traveler at heart so I went along! Then at some point they asked me to start decorating the stage and after-hours parties. I really learned to respect Prince for his artistry and commitment to his craft. He's really creative. And I got interested in the art of design.
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because I'm a really visual person. I was born to place objects. I think it makes the world more harmonious to be surrounded by pleasing things.
When do you know what you're doing is working?
When it feels good. When you experience an environment that helps you feel better connected to your world.
What's the most fun part of the job?
I love the design process. I love the midway point and looking back and reflecting on the first conversation with the client or about the project — the beginning of the creation.
Were you designing things as a child?
I moved all over the U.S. and lived mostly in the Midwest and on the East Coast. When you move a lot, there are always those periods when you don't know anybody. So I remember doing things like painting and making candles. One of the highlights of moving so much was being able to pick out my own wallpaper for my own room. I was the oldest of four kids so I always got my own bedroom; my mother was the home decorator. So she always said, "OK, you have a new room so you can pick out new wallpaper." It was like, lose all of your friends, but get new wallpaper. That became a cherished tradition. So I'd pick out new bedding and wallpaper and create my own environment. I was always changing my room. I usually had groovy wallpaper. One time I wanted those big red three-foot lips, but they didn't have them in stock, so I went with black and white trees.
How did all that moving affect how you design?
Well, the good thing is that I can go into a new environment and feel like I'm at home. Every new environment is a new experience, and I'm ready for it. And I still have that spirit of moving on, of being an explorer
What is Froote?
My company is all about feeling good, living the sweet life. That passion. So Froote celebrates the sweet life with the creation of objects that bring joy and beauty into your world.
What does every well-designed home need?
There has to be a cohesive dialogue between the colors and the architecture of the space, as well as between the size and functionality of the furniture and designated areas. It has to say, "This is this area, that is that area." There needs to be a relationship, whether it's harmony or contrast.
Of course, you want to have comfort and wow appeal. A space should reflect the needs of what that person does in his or her life.
Every house needs an aspect of water. I believe in feng shui and that there's something very soothing about water; I think it represents the subconscious, a very powerful conductor. You can add water simply with tabletop fountains or fish tanks.
Do you have advice for dealing with a designer?
I think you need to view a designer as more than a once-a-year consultant. You need design maintenance, the same way you need a gardener to help you maintain a landscape design. Your needs change, things change and shift. So even if you've made good design choices that have longevity, we may be able to help you improve upon them.
Where can homeowners find design inspiration?
Anywhere. Really, anywhere. Go into your kitchen or closet and bring out something you love. And then think about whatever it is — say, a teacup — and ask yourself why do you love it, what's its purpose? You have to have that dialogue. Remember that anything is inspirational. Look around you, at design books, and inside and outside your home.
Do you have a "signature" style?
My sensibilities definitely lean more toward modern, concept-driven design, but I like to mix some old with the new. My reputation is to have a daringness to play with color — that's the painter in me coming out. I tell clients about an idea or color choice and they're like, "Whoa!" Then when they see the end result, they're happy. I've never had a bad experience; it's always joyful in the end. I'm able to take something that's used and transform it. That's not to say that I don't like new. I just got new all-white office furniture that I love; I like clean lines. But if something is impersonal, it's missing something.
Your Froote designs — particularly your chairs — seem personal and mix something new and something old.
The chairs are really fun — my grandma chairs and the others. They reflect a sensibility of who I am. With the grandma chair it was taking what I do best and what do I like to do. Plays to the artist in me and the designer in me, and I don't care if it's hip or not. You look around and there are all these period chairs being reupholstered in hip new fabrics and I'm at the forefront of that.
You mix old and new in interior design as well?
I worked on an historic Victorian home and we added 3,000 square feet. I wanted to do something that kept to the integral aspect of the Victorian language, while the owners wanted full-on modern. So, after a conversation and budget consideration, they created a very modern home with very clean lines on the inside, but kept some of the anomalies of the Victorian era on the outside. It really looks like you can see how the dialogue between the old and the new relate. I was thankful that this particular client had a lot of trust in me.
What design trends are on the horizon?
The biggest new things will make the world easier, more intelligent and eco-friendly. I'm really into the green ergonomic choices that we're all being forced to make now. That's a big trend. I always have to consider where that plays in now; it's not just about the form, it's about the function.
European efficiency is another important thing to look at. In Europe, they make it work. Take Holland, which is a very populated country with a lot of tall people and big dogs — they function really well in these really tiny spaces because they have systems. The average person lives in only so much square footage so everything has its place. We're going to see much more of that efficient design here. Lots of innovative organization systems.
People also want to be taken away a bit. Bring a sense of adventure home or create a sense that you're somewhere else.
Any new color trends to share?
I predict that red on red and burgundy on red are going to be the next big thing, accented with light green. Neutrals are still a good alternative color choice. And it'll be interesting what happens due to the price of petroleum. Whatever the color, we'll be seeing more eco-friendly paint and dyes.